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12 Multiplayer DCGs with Pros & Cons
Artifex28

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With SolForge dying, I thought that quite a few might be interested in this, exploring new options.

Here's how the other Digital Card Games currently look. My personal favorite on the bottom. :)

Me: I've been playing both physical and digital card games & turn-based strategies/roguelikes since early 90s. Reviewed games for past 10 years as a freelancer.

This list is purely based on my own, subjective experiences.

UI/UX = User Interface / User Experience. How smooth and polished the game is.

Coinflippy/RNG = The game has high emphasis on random elements, without giving tools to work around them. Can also mean that the metagame is so rock-paper-scissors, that depending of the matchup, you're just losing 80%+ of games against certain deck archtype, which you'd beat with another deck in similar chances. You cannot impact the outcome by playing well.

Pay to (gain advantage to) Win = Money grants too much of an advantage, too quickly over players that play free. Power difference between higher rarity cards is too obvious and non-situational, which means that budget decks generally won't do well, no matter how well you play.

Rewarding = how quickly can players acquire new cards for their collection to build more deck permutations

Skill impact on match outcome = Lower value means that you MORE often feel like there was nothing you could do by playing well to achieve a victory/draw over a loss. The lower the value, the more matches you've to play to climb ladders. Lower value does NOT mean that the game is BAD. It's a relativistic value to COMPARE how much of a role player skill in, eg. single round of the game, plays. Some players enjoy more RNG than others. I'm happy there are options for everyone. And hope to see plenty more in the future. :)

+Pro

=Neutral

-Con

Gwent // Unique

+Smooth UI/UX

= Very quick matches
= Based on mindgames and bluffing -> decoying "plays" out

-No Mobile Client
-Extremely coinflippy/RNG before you know the cards in the game

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 1/5

Hearthstone

+Smooth UI/UX
+Aesthetics
+Mobile Client

-Terrible Rewarding
-Shallow Mechanics
-Noticeable Pay to Win (grind a LOT or be severely gimped)
-Single Playfield = Snowballing
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2/5

Eternal // Very similar to Hearthstone, with bit of MtG

+Smooth UI/UX
+Mobile Client
+Defender chooces blockers = More control than HS
+Interruption phase = More control than HS

-Terrible Rewarding
-Shallow Mechanics
-Noticeable Pay to Win (like Hearthstone, but without single player campaign content)
-Single Playfield = Snowballing
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2/5

Star Crusade // Very similar to Hearthstone

+Energy Mechanics = More Depth than HS
+Mobile Client
-Slow Rewarding
-Pay to Win
-Single Playfield = snowballing
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2.5/5

Shadowverse // Similar to Hearthstone

+Evolve Mechanic (during match) for some extra control
+UI/UX is smooth
+Bit of MtG control in (defender chooces blockers and interruption phase in combat)
+Mobile Client

= Aesthetics (if you're in anime)
= Decent Rewarding

-Single Playfield = Snowballing
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 3/5

Drakenlords // Similar to Hearthstone

+Unique Factions
+Player Avatars Can Always Attack Targets = More Control than HS
+Mobile Client

= UI/UX

-Single Playfield = Snowballing
-Pay to Win

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 3/5

Elder Scrolls: Legends // Similar to Hearthstone

+Two Lanes and Rune Mechanics = More Depth than HS
+Two Faction Option for Building Decks = More Depth than HS
+Aesthetics (voice acting / production quality)

-No Mobile Client (yet)
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 3/5

Hex // Very similar to Magic the Gathering

+Depth
+Interruption phases

-Extremely Pay to Win – just like MTG
-No Mobile Client
-Terrible Rewarding / Based on Grinding instead of Daily Logins etc
-Terrible UI/UX (haven't tried past 4 months, but it has been terrible & clunky for past ~3 years)
-Coinflippy/RNG due to drawing land

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2/5
Skill impact on match outcome as a veteran player with a large collection: 3.5/5

Plants vs Zombies: Heroes // Unique

+UI/UX
+Aesthetics (great animations & SFXs)
+Decent rewarding (not as generous as SolForge)
+Five lanes, with three different types (high ground, ground and water)
+Enjoyable before rank 40+
+Mobile Client

-Extremely coinflippy/RNG based on rank 40+ due to one turn kills / mass wipes / random summons etc

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 3.5/5

Skill impact on match outcome as a high rank player: 1/5

SolForge // Unique

+Depth – Pretty much every single card has effect that combine with others
+Cards you play get stronger during the match for next time you draw them
+5 lanes & Lane Blocking with any opposing card = More Depth than HS
+Extremely generous rewarding
+Drafting (keep the cards you draft)
+Mobile Client

-Current (7th) set has balance issues on constructed -> not enough variance on decks and outcome feels too coinflippy
-UI/UX – New client has plenty of issues

-Servers closing on 31st of January …permanently.

Skill impact on match outcome: 4/5

Faeria // Unique

+Great mechanics = More Depth than HS
+Hex-based playfield -> positioning and movement matters a lot
+Mana can be saved for upcoming turns
+Aesthetics
+UI/UX

= Decent rewarding

-Balance issues, constant major changes
-Aggro was really strong last I checked -> boring as "only viable archetype"
-No Mobile Client

Skill impact on match outcome: 4/5

Duelyst // Unique

Highly recommended!

Pretty much the most skill involved Digital Card Game out there, that isn't following the Pay to Win (spend thousands on boosters) road that Magic the Gathering started (Hex / Spellweaver).

+Great mechanics = More Depth than HS
+Square-based playfield -> positioning and movement matters a lot
+Two heroes per faction
+Replace mechanic (replace one card on hand per turn) = Less RNG
+Aesthetics (if you're in pixel art)
+UI/UX

-Slow rewarding, so yes – money speeds up your progress, but less P2W than eg. Hearthstone
-Can be painful experience to learn due to skill mattering more than in your typical CCG
-Latest expansion (Blood) is expensive to unlock with in-game gold (300 gold per orb for 3 non-duplicate cards vs 100 gold on 5 random cards in previous ones). Flat-purchase for everything in the expansion is available for $19,99/~19.3€ though.
-No Mobile Client and doesn't even want to work with Steam Link

Skill impact on match outcome: 4.5/5

If you thought this was helpful and would like to get a free booster pack for yourself (and one for me if you stick with the game) – register with referral code: pooppirate (yup! :D)

Composer. Sound Designer. Gaming Journalist. www.soundcloud.com/Artifex28
JockeD

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Very nice write up!

But Solforge was unique and there is no game out there with the same awesome core.

Many thing went wrong with Solforge but its core gameplay wasnt one of it.

 

/JockeD

Artifex28

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JockeD said
Very nice write up!

But Solforge was unique and there is no game out there with the same awesome core.

Many thing went wrong with Solforge but its core gameplay wasnt one of it.

 

/JockeD

I agree and never stated anything else. :)

Composer. Sound Designer. Gaming Journalist. www.soundcloud.com/Artifex28
Akshobhya

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Eternal // Very similar to Hearthstone, with bit of MtG

+Smooth UI/UX
+Mobile Client
+Defender chooces blockers = More control than HS
+Interruption phase = More control than HS

-Terrible Rewarding
-Shallow Mechanics
-Noticeable Pay to Win (like Hearthstone, but without single player campaign content)
-Single Playfield = Snowballing
-Coinflippy/RNG

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2/5

I have mostly moved on to Eternal now that Solforge is dying.  I would disagree that the game isn't rewarding.  I've probably spent less on this than many other CCGs but with the free gold I earn from playing, I've managed to build one of the more complete collections compared to other CCGs I own.  I really like the fact that defenders choose blockers since it dampens (to some degree) aggro decks.  Though aggro decks do still dominate, like they do in pretty much every other CCG with a ladder.  

Spellweaver is also a game that I think is pretty generous, though the game population there is dwindling, I'm afraid it will shut down next.

The feature I liked best in Solforge was that we had 5 (or more) cards every. single. turn.  That was killer.  What I hate about M:tG style games, like Eternal, Hex, Hearthstone, PvZ:Heroes, pretty much that entire list, is that towards the end of the game you start topdecking everything, and winning or losing becomes more random.  Solforge had its own form of a random element, but every. single. turn. you got to pick from several options instead of relying on dumb luck.  I'm really going to miss that.

ActualRawr

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Thanks for the write-up. It's amazing/ridiculous/sad how few of them have mobile clients. I don't have a home pc anymore, so most of these are ruled right out. I already play Hearthstone; I like to have 2-3 games to switch between.

I think Hearthstone is better than you give it credit for, but the new player experience is probably pretty brutal right now (I started 2+ years ago). I'll probably take a stab at Shadowverse/Drakenlords, but it might be time for me to explore some other genres.

Coolcor

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I think Infinity Wars deserves a mention as a unique card game that can't really be called similar to MtG or Hearthstone. Hopefully it isn't the next to shut down because it got started about the same time as Solforge but the steam player numbers aren't any better and it doesn't have a mobile client.

For Hex I think it would be fair to mention its unique selling points. The PvE is completely free and there is plenty to do with the recent adventure zone 2 update. Leveling up a character to get points to put into a talent tree with a lot of powerful effects to chose from is an RPG gameplay element that no other card game has. It still doesn't have the co-op raids the kickstarter promised, but as a single player card game RPG I think it is great and can offer a lot of fun for free.

Some people think the ability to trade and sell cards on the auction house with other players to be a positive thing Hex has. So some powerful PvP cards can cost a bunch of real money to get, but the market price of that card can go up or down or stay the same, and you can sell the card later to get real money back. This also means competitive players who like to play in tournaments can win prizes that they can convert into real world cash. Infinity Wars also as the ability for players to trade cards to one another but no in game auction house, so its cards can also be turned into real world cash if you can find a buyer, but all the IW cards can be gotten through free to play rewards so they aren't as expensive as Hex cards.

HotHamBoy

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11:29 am
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The ones that look the most interesting don't have mobile clients…

Here's a few others:

Shadow Era

EarthCore

Mavenfall – this is a little simple but pretty unique

Yu-Gi-Oh – don't know about other platforms bu the $20 game on PS4 is the entire set of cards with a campaign, I think

 

And might I suggest Deckbuilding games? I mean, if you're tired of constantly sinking in in money for random cards and want a game where the playfield is always even…

 

Star Realms – my favorite on mobile

Ascension – a bit more complex, lots of exoansions with new mechanics

Sentinals of the Multiverse

Xenoshyft

Yomi

World of Tanks – Generals

 

Dominion Online just shut down on the 1st. Apparently a new client from a new developer is coming soon.

SpringDryad

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I am moving to Astral Heroes.  I am so far enjoying it.

Randomex

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Duelyst is planning on getting a mobile client (sometime in the coming year, I think).

Entropy42

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Good list of games, though I'd probably respectfully disagree with a few of the relative ratings.

I've moved on to playing Hex, personally, because I like the MTG-combat style, and enjoy the PVE-RPG experience the game has.  I don't play too much constructed, because you are correct that people with big collections have an advantage, but when I did I played a super cheap deck all the way up to the highest tier.  Not sure if there are any budget decks that can really climb the ladder well right now.  I mostly just play draft and sealed, because everyone is on an equal footing and if I do well enough I can just sell the extra cards on the AH and finance another round of sealed/draft.

Hope everyone can find something they enjoy to fill the Solforge-shaped hole in their hearts.

Osirus

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Great write-up! I appreciate that you took the time to discuss lots of them, and not just your favorites. I haven't bothered with Duelyst as I hate CCG-tacticalmap mash-ups, but I've tried some of the others on your list and plan to try more over the coming weeks. My own experiences with various CCGs I'm doing as a write-up over on VideoGameGeek, although it's a bit more of my own reactions in paragraph form, and not the concise +/- list you've done here.

DraftKing

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Astral Heroes is a game which is most similar to Solforge.  Obviously there are key differences, but there are also many similarities.  The game is at an early stage, like when Solforge was in Alpha.  The developer seems to have put a lot of effort into making the game balanced (no rarities, all cards seem roughly equal in power).

Artifex28

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Randomex said
Duelyst is planning on getting a mobile client (sometime in the coming year, I think).

Extremely happy to hear that!

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Artifex28

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DraftKing said
Astral Heroes is a game which is most similar to Solforge.  Obviously there are key differences, but there are also many similarities.  The game is at an early stage, like when Solforge was in Alpha.  The developer seems to have put a lot of effort into making the game balanced (no rarities, all cards seem roughly equal in power).

This is great. Actually a game I haven't even heard of. Downloaded via Steam, trying …after a proper sleep. :)

Thanks!

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Artifex28

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Osirus said
Great write-up! I appreciate that you took the time to discuss lots of them, and not just your favorites. I haven't bothered with Duelyst as I hate CCG-tacticalmap mash-ups, but I've tried some of the others on your list and plan to try more over the coming weeks. My own experiences with various CCGs I'm doing as a write-up over on VideoGameGeek, although it's a bit more of my own reactions in paragraph form, and not the concise +/- list you've done here.

Glad to hear that you liked it! :)

There are bunch of more that I dropped from this list for the reason that… I really don't think those games are worth the time of people in the long run. Some of the ones have already been mentioned here, eg. EarthCore, Shadow Era and Mavenfall. There are actually dozens of very small DCGs out there that are just either full pay to win or absolutely tedious to play for more than few hours.

Coolcor said
I think Infinity Wars deserves a mention as a unique card game that can't really be called similar to MtG or Hearthstone. Hopefully it isn't the next to shut down because it got started about the same time as Solforge but the steam player numbers aren't any better and it doesn't have a mobile client.

Infinity Wars is something that should be on the list. For some reason the game has been very …repulsive. I've attempted to play it three times, roughly 9 months a part, but the game just feels to lack all the necessary polish / hook to get me interested. It seems like it actually might have depth, but when the first impression is repeatedly bad, it's just difficult.

…oh yeah, Spellweaver too. Tried playing, but same story as above. Will stab again at some point.

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Artifex28

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Entropy42 said
Good list of games, though I'd probably respectfully disagree with a few of the relative ratings.

I've moved on to playing Hex, personally, because I like the MTG-combat style, and enjoy the PVE-RPG experience the game has.  I don't play too much constructed, because you are correct that people with big collections have an advantage, but when I did I played a super cheap deck all the way up to the highest tier.  Not sure if there are any budget decks that can really climb the ladder well right now.  I mostly just play draft and sealed, because everyone is on an equal footing and if I do well enough I can just sell the extra cards on the AH and finance another round of sealed/draft.

Hope everyone can find something they enjoy to fill the Solforge-shaped hole in their hearts.

Yeah, the relative rating was just for new player experience related to how much I felt that skill plays a role. Some people are fine with more RNG than others. Some are willing to spend time to learn something essentially by error and trial, by being in the blind during the whole experience (eg. Gwent).

Duelyst has had a great approach. I constantly learn something by my mistakes – meaning cards that I weren't expecting, but still the actual gameplay feels so skill involved that the outcome doesn't feel like a roll of a dice. Then again, I have just played couple matches / day with some of them being gauntlet (draft).

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Tony128

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Eternal // Very similar to Hearthstone, with bit of MtG

+Smooth UI/UX
+Mobile Client
+Defender chooces blockers = More control than HS
+Interruption phase = More control than HS

-Terrible Rewarding

Utterly Wrong: Real Draft Modus which mean you keep the card from your build deck, Gauntlet AI Modus with high rewards, free deck every week, Events/Promotion for free cards, 13+ Cards in one Pack, Free currency in every card pack to generate cards, Free cards + Gold for win in match, Daily Quests. I personally played now a few Online Card Games and Eternal Card Game is by far the most rewarding i experienced so far. Also reward Tiers have a 10% to upgrade to the next higher reward tier (can stack, got a bronze chest and ended up with an gold chest which has a free card pack several times now)

 

-Shallow Mechanics

 

Also Wrong: Cards can have predetermined effects that can interact with each other: Aegis, Ambush, Charge, Deadly, Destiny, Double Damage, Echo, Endurance, Entomb, Flying, Infiltrate, Killer, Lifesteal, Overwhelm, Quickdraw, Reckless, Silence, Unblockable, Warcry.

-Noticeable Pay to Win (like Hearthstone, but without single player campaign content)

You couldn't be more Wrong. I payed and one of my starter decks is still kicking ass because it consists of efficient cards that are easily obtainable or consists of the cards you get at the start. And as i stated under REWARDS you get a Ton of cards for free.

 

-Single Playfield = Snowballing

I don't see a problem with a single playfield/battlefield, or why is it a problem for you?

 

-Coinflippy/RNG

What exactly do you mean? RNG is always part of a card game.

 

Skill impact on match outcome as a new player: 2/5

How long did you play Eternal? Because it is basically Magic The Gathering 2016. It has 5 different factions. It allows multicolor decks. It reworked a lot of mechanics from MTG. I personally like to describe Eternal as the child of Hearthstone and Magic The Gathering because it offers the mechanics of MTG and the accessability of Hearthstone.

 

Besides Faeria one of the best Card Games you can currently play (in my opinion).

Artifex28

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What's going on above? "Awaiting moderation?" :o
Aah, a new user. That must be it.

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tristan

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I would never go back to MtG in a serious fashion. I logged a thousand tournament matches and got sick of the way that mana decided so many games. That rules out Hex and Eternal for me, as they use the same system.

Infinity Wars, like Solforge, had a really cool, unique design, but also like Solforge, was plagued by development and stability issues.

I think if you're going to switch to a game, you want to be confident that it will still be around in a few years time – That rules out quite a few options unfortunately. Hearthstone will be, and I think Hex, ES:L and Duelyst will be as well.

Of those games, I think Duelyst is the best, but if you wanted a pure card experience, then ES:L might be a better choice than HS for a new player as there's less catching up to do.

Tony128

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I can totally see why the mana system of HEX and Eternal can someone put off the game. But what most player miss to see is, that it is part of the game. I mean to gather ressources and have cards to help you gather ressources is part of the game. And normally both games give you the necessary tools to do that.

 

That means of course mana drain and mana flood is a thing but it is not that big of a difference of not drawing the "matching cards".

 

What puts me off games like Hearthstone and Duelyst is the problem that the ressource is not that important or can be neglected which means for me it is only part of the game for the mana curve of a game to play more cards or more powerfull cards.

In case of Hearthstone and Duelyst I was often left with the feeling that my 5 turns before meant nothing where i played around certain cards and put my enemy player in a real disadvantage and was about to win only to end up losing because of one "Killer Card" that made a 180 turn of the game or even left me losing.

The best example of my game experience in Hearthstone was that i was one turn away to win the game. It was already a very long game. My opponent had 1 hitpoint left, no hand, no board presence. I had 12 hitpoints left and three creatures on the board and still two cards on my hand. Enemy Turn. Draws Blackwing 12/12. Kills Everything on the board. GG i lost because i had no creature with provoke on my hand and the enemy player could freely hit my face next turn.

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